Autonomous Flight in an Uncertain Future

Dr Eucker Message Image

Twenty years have passed since the horrendous day of 9/11 when so much innocence was lost in America. We came together to mourn and try to make sense of how to move forward with so much loss. Anyone over age 25 and certainly over age 30 will recall that moment when they heard and understood the events of 9/11. My personal memory was most likely similar to most- I just wanted my children close. One of my sons was in 6th grade and on a multi-day school field trip to Mesa Verde in the Four Corners. Understandably, his teachers and all of the children wanted to return and be with their families. We all had to regroup and rebuild from what we held dearest.

Not only were all of the students at STEM not yet born, but some of the youngest staff members were too young to remember. For them, it is just another historical event.

How can we protect our children from the inevitable future events that will shake our foundation and feelings of safety? One concept that I have appropriated from our aerospace community is autonomous flight. My former board chair was Matt Smith, head of engineering at United Launch Alliance. ULA launches rockets once a month and has a perfect success record. Matt explained to me that engineers must pack the rocket with everything it needs for whatever it might encounter in space. Future events cannot always be predicted. This novel concept immediately resonated with me for what we attempt to do with our students.

STEM students face an uncertain and rapidly changing world. We know fantastic opportunities and unimaginable hardship will be in their future. Partnering with our STEM families, our goal is to empower resilient students with a strong sense of self-efficacy. Through perseverance and strength of character, they will triumph over any obstacle. This happens with one small success on top of another, day after day, year after year. They are STEMStrongerToether and ready to lead others less abled.

As we all pause to remember 9/11, I am encouraged that our community comes together collectively to provide an incubator for the next generation to rise stronger and more resilient. For those who fret that all is lost, I know help is on the way with our next generation. STEM uniquely prepares students for autonomous flight in an uncertain future.

We shall never forget,

P.J. Eucker PhD
Executive Director

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